Author's Note...In honor of ILoVeRynMar's birthday (8.11)…I offer her this humble gift of smut that spiraled out of control like most things I write. It is because of this lovely woman and her encouragement and support that I am even part of this fandom, and I am eternally grateful. And yeah, I'm gonna be cheesy and say I could live 1000 lifetimes and not deserve how awesome she is to me. Happy birthday, my dear.
Thanks to streetlightlove, HGRomance and Pookieh for prereading and offering their sage advice. And famousfremus...thanks for not shaming me over our shared love for dirty gif hunting.
The gif that…uh…inspired this story (and it is inspiring to say the least) can be found on streetlightlove's tumblr. Go follow her…why? Because she's awesome. Enough said.
I own nothing of significance.
"I can't see the clock from here," Katniss grouses as she adjusts the seat on the spin bike and then gives the handlebars a firm tug to be sure they are locked into position. Johanna smirks at her as she drapes two towels over the top of the bike.
"That's exactly why I choose this bike every time. If you can't see the clock you can't be tempted to peek every five minutes and wonder when the torture is going to end."
Katniss straightens and shoots her friend a wary look. "You know, Jo, you keep alluding to pain and torture and I'm starting to think whatever sadistic pleasure you get out of this stupid class it's not for me."
Johanna grins and climbs onto the spin bike, sliding her feet into the pedals and fastening the straps around them. "You burn six hundred fucking calories in a good fifty minute class, Brainless. It's worth the agony when you can knock back a few cocktails at Happy Hour on Friday and not feel an ounce of guilt." She motions to Katniss's bike. "Be sure you adjust the pedals and fit them snugly over your sneakers. You don't have spin shoes so you want to be sure your feet don't go flying out of the pedals. I've seen it happen." She mock-shudders and begins to circle her legs.
"You're not making me regret this any less," she grumbles, placing her hands on her hips defiantly. Running on the track or using the stationary bikes and treadmills had been the extent of her experience at the gym in college. And since she graduated, she'd had not the slightest inclination to join one. But Johanna went religiously, and when she had gleefully waved her 'one-week's-free' guest pass in Katniss's face last Sunday and told her now she had no excuse not to try a few classes, Katniss reluctantly relented.
"Maybe he'll make you regret it less," Jo smirks again, nodding towards the doorway of the spin studio. Katniss twists and glances in the direction Johanna has gestured towards, and she fights to contain any obvious reaction to the incredibly attractive man who loiters there talking amiably with two older women. His hair is the color of ripe summer wheat, falling in slightly messy curls across his forehead, and his skin is sun-kissed, no doubt the result of hours spent outside, but with no visible tan lines on his muscled arms, he must do so shirtless. Katniss feels her mouth go dry as he lifts his eyes and met her gaze. Even with several yards between them, she sees the piercing blue of his irises and the appraising look that he gives her causes an immediate fluttering below her abdomen.
She diverts her eyes quickly and pretends to adjust her water bottle in the holder below the handlebars. "Who's that?" she asks, hoping she sounds nonchalant and indifferent.
Johanna grins wickedly. "That's the reason these bikes are all filled and ninety percent of this class will be female. Peeta. He's the instructor."
Katniss darts her gaze back at the blond man who continues to chat in the front of the room, now with several more age-appropriate girls. She snickers to herself at the doe-eyed looks that the girls give him and notices that each one of them is fully made up and decked out in coordinating outfits. Katniss is lucky to have brushed her hair before she wound it into a tight braid, and her own sports bra and tank top probably clash, but she didn't think a workout was supposed to be a beauty contest. It would have been nice if Johanna had warned her that the instructor was some kind of fucking Norse god.
"You gonna get on that bike, Everdeen, or you gonna let that puddle of drool under you get wider?"
She scowls at Johanna as the lights dim, the fans above her head whir to life, and she hears the audible click of a microphone. Peeta attaches a little pack to his bike shorts and slips on a headset. "Okay, everyone, welcome back to my favorite hour of the week, Thursdays, 6:30 pm because I get the honor of watching you beautiful people sweating your asses off and having fun doing it—"
"I can think of a much better way to spend an hour getting sweaty with him," Johanna whispers loudly, and Katniss glares at her, though she can't deny she just had the exact same thought. As much as she tries to suppress it, there is something about this guy that has instantly unnerved her. Sure, she has been going through a dry spell that rivals the Sahara Desert and to be fair, she's done nothing to alleviate it. She has seen plenty of hot guys on the street or in the local Starbucks recently. So what makes this one so special?
"We'll get started in a few minutes; if you haven't already gotten your bike ready or grabbed a few towels, last call." As he fiddles with an iPod, he scans the room. "Any beginners out there who need help setting up a bike, just raise your hand and I'll gladly come assist you."
"She's new," Johanna calls, raising a hand above her head and to Katniss's horror, she points vehemently at Katniss. Peeta smiles broadly and sets down the iPod, and Katniss's pulse quickens as he weaves his way through the labyrinth of bikes to where she stands. He clicks off his microphone as he pauses beside her.
"Johanna, good to see you again." Then he turns to Katniss and extends a hand. She swallows and accepts it; his grip is firm but gentle, and her eyes wander to the perfectly sculpted bicep that contracts as he pumps her palm a few times. "I'm Peeta. Peeta Mellark. Welcome to the class."
"Uh, Katniss, um, Everdeen. Hi," she replies, and those impossibly blue eyes twinkle at her.
"I can't say I've heard that name before. It's beautiful."
"Um, thanks." She feels a flush rising and hopes it's simply because the studio is a little warm.
"So first time, huh?" He grins and crosses his arms across his chest. She nods and allows her eyes linger on the slope of his broad shoulders, wondering what other incredible muscle tone he's hiding beneath the sleeveless Under Armour shirt. "Did Johanna explain to you how to adjust your seat and your handlebars?" She nods again, and his grin widens. "Okay, so you're halfway there. You'll want to climb on and get yourself settled in the saddle. Remember it's not like a regular ten-speed or anything, so you're not looking to sit fully over the seat."
She inhales and straddles the bike, slipping her feet into the pedals and as she leans down to secure the straps around her sneakers, Peeta squats between her bike and Johanna's to help her. She says a silent prayer of thanks that she had worn a skirt to work and thus had hastily shaved her legs in the shower that morning. He gives each a little yank and smiles approvingly. "Okay, you're tight there. Go ahead and stand up in the saddle and be sure it feels comfortable."
Mildly flustered by his choice of words, she follows his directions and rises onto the pedals, and she frowns at the bouncy sensation. Her expression must amuse Peeta because he chuckles softly. "Again, different from a real bike. You'll get used to it. You're in second position right now." She tries to focus on his instructions and not his incredibly handsome face as he explains how to place her fingers on the handle but not to grip it and shows her how to 'walk it out' to third. Her head is starting to swim with the little details but with a wary peek around the room, she convinces herself if these vapid looking girls and old ladies can figure it out, she should be okay. She's athletic and a fast learner, after all.
She jumps lightly and the pedals bounce and Johanna stifles a snort beside her. Peeta smiles at her expectantly and Katniss knows her cheeks are a bright pink now. But he doesn't flinch and waits for her to sit back down as he points out the dial below the handlebars and offers a short demonstration on resistance. "I'll be constantly telling you guys to reach down and add it on throughout the ride. Sometimes it will be a half-turn, sometimes you'll need to turn it a few times, but be sure that when I give you the signal or command to take it all off that you do it or else the next part of the ride will be far more grueling than it should be." He winks at her, and again, her mind trips over something he said: 'take it all off.' God is she really that fucking horny that she can't keep her brain from turning innocent suggestions into double entendres? Or is he just that hot?
"Brainless, pay attention!" Johanna barks, and for the third time, Katniss blushes and has the urge to murder Johanna for using that stupid nickname.
"Sorry," she apologizes to Peeta. "I, uh, had a case today that I've been worrying about and I zoned out." She's pleased that the lie falls so easily from her lips, and Peeta's blond brows dip in concern.
"You're a lawyer?"
She can't tell if he sounds impressed or aghast, but she smiles nonetheless. "Social worker, actually."
Johanna snickers. "Hey, Ponyboy, I'm glad you're hitting it off with my friend here, but some of us came here to workout and not to flirt."
Katniss drops her eyes to her water bottle, but as Peeta makes his way back to the bike in the front of the studio, she thinks she notices a darker red staining his tanned cheeks. He switches the microphone back on, fiddles with the iPod again and suddenly the resounding toll of AC/DC's "Hells Bells" booms through the room. An easy grin dominates his face as he mounts his bike and calls out a litany of commands. "Give it a few turns and bring it up to second," he finishes, and Katniss glances around to see what the others do. She raises her eyes and meets Peeta's gaze, and he reaches down on his bike to discreetly offer her assistance. Turning the dial a few times, she braces her feet and rises onto the pedals. He grins and nods, and that mild fluttering migrates through her stomach, threatening to bloom to a full-blown swarming. God he is impossibly sexy. It should be illegal to be that confident and self-assured.
Peeta is full of energy—no one can deny that. He hardly breaks a sweat as he guides them through the ride, and though Katniss finds herself sweating profusely and her legs start to burn by about twenty minutes in, she's pleasantly surprised that she's enjoying herself.
She's just thinking that he has great taste in music after a Beatles tune follows songs by the Foo Fighters and the Black Keys when the opening notes of some boy band hit from a few years back seep through the speakers. She wrinkles her nose in disgust and catches the wide grin on Peeta's face.
"Okay, who got a hold of my iPod and put this into my playlist?" He points to an elderly woman on the spin bike directly in front of us. "Mags, was it you? Don't you try and hide it! I know you were a Justin Timberlake groupie when you were younger!"
Katniss rolls her eyes but can't keep the smile of her own lips as he teases the woman, who easily looks to be in her seventies and probably was one of Frank Sinatra's conquests rather than a closet N*Sync fan.
"Well in any case," Peeta continues, "Let's make the most of this pop garbage and jump it out. Four count jumps, keep up if you can." His eyes land directly on Katniss as he begins to rise out of the saddle, pedals a few times and returns to his seat. "Those of you who feel more comfortable, feel free to grab a drink and stay in first for the duration of JT and company."
Katniss swallows and glances over at Johanna, who rises and sits in perfect tempo with Peeta's motions. She takes a long sip of her water, swallows and tries to mimic what Peeta is demonstrating, 'jumping' out of the saddle in rhythm with the beat of the pop song. She's a bit off at first, taking one full chorus to get her bearings, but she's happy that she manages not to make a total ass of herself by the time the song ends and the thumping bass of Kid Rock drowns out her heavy breathing.
She prides herself on only darting glances up at the clock twice, and finally Peeta announces it's time to cool down and he starts to walk them through a series of stretches on their bikes. Her mouth is dry as cotton, but her water bottle is empty. He raises his right arm above his head and grips his elbow; the tight cords of the muscles strain and she imagines how easily those strong arms must support his weight when he's hovering above a woman, thrusting into her.
A flush heats her cheeks and creeps down her neck and she fumbles for the towel on the handlebars, patting the terrycloth along her fevered skin. Beads of sweat stipple the valley between her breasts, and she feels the perspiration that's gathered under the curve of each as well as beneath her armpits, dampening her sports bra. She straightens on the bike and keeps toweling off, letting her legs cycle more slowly, but she drapes the towel behind her neck and leans forward to remove the rest of the resistance on the bike when she notices most of the rest of the class doing so.
"Don't forget to take off your resistance and return your bikes to their zero settings, guys," Peeta calls, reaching for a towel of his own. "And please wipe down the seats and handlebars before you go. Thanks for choosing my humble little workout. I do this every Thursday evening and every Monday morning at six-thirty if you care to wake up with me too."
"Wouldn't you rather wake up next to him?"
Katniss glances over at Johanna, who wiggles her eyebrows suggestively. Johanna snorts and hops off the bike at Katniss's expression, striding to the front of the room to grab two wipes from the dispenser. She thrusts one at Katniss. "C'mon Everdeen. I saw the way you gawked at him when he was stretching at the end of the session. His fucking body is like a temple, huh?"
"Shut up, Johanna," she hisses when she senses Peeta staring at them from the elevated platform where his bike is. She looks down quickly and busies herself disinfecting the seat.
"I'd get down on my knees for him. I bet you would too."
"Shut up!" She gives the seat one more pass with the towelette and moves up to swipe the handlebars. She's not going to give Johanna the satisfaction of knowing just how easily the handsome blond instructor has gotten under her skin and into her own fantasies.
They leave the bikes, throw out the wipes, and toss the towels into the provided bin near Peeta. Katniss gives him a shy smile, but just as she inhales and steels her nerves to engage him in a conversation—might as well start by thanking him, right?—two giggling blondes approach him and to her dismay, his eyes leave hers as he gives them that sexy smile and disheartened, Katniss spins on her heel and leaves the studio without another glance at him.
"Whoa, where's the fire?" Johanna calls, and Katniss feels her friend's surprisingly strong grip on her right elbow. She shakes it off and shrugs, walking across the hall to the water fountain to fill her water bottle. "Are you not going to talk to Goldilocks?"
"He was busy," she replies bluntly. "And I'm starving."
Johanna rolls her eyes. "When are you not hungry? You're lucky your metabolism is like a fucking hummingbird's." She twists and glances back into the spin studio. "Are you really not going to talk to him?"
"Yes, really." To prove her point, she stalks off up the corridor towards the front of the gym, and Johanna jogs to catch up with her.
"This is why you're single, you know. You never put yourself out there or take a risk."
Katniss spins and plants her hands on her hips. "Johanna, guys like him don't give girls like me a second look. Just drop it, okay?"
But it's Katniss who can't drop it. Peeta lingers on her mind all day Friday, and she finds herself doing the unthinkable—she drives back to that gym after work and signs up for a membership of her own.
She curses when the alarm rings at five minutes to six on Monday morning, but then she remembers why she set it so goddamn early. She springs out of bed and dresses for the gym, trying not to think about how today she lingers in front of her drawer a little longer, searching for a tank top that will complement her teal sports bra. And she pretends not to notice that she actually uses a hairbrush when she gathers her thick, dark tresses into a ponytail. And no, that's not a light sweeping of mascara that she whisks over her lashes and a thin layer of rosy gloss gleaming on her lips. Nope.
Every red light mocks her as she drives, and she pulls into the parking lot with only six minutes to spare before Peeta's six-thirty class begins. She grabs her water bottle and shoves her keys into her small bag. She sprints through the automatic doors and holds up her key tag, the chirp alerting the desk clerk that she's a member. The bubbly little blonde girl gives her a bright smile and Katniss's first thought is that she is way too fucking chipper for this early in the morning—on a Monday, no less!
She speed-walks down the corridor to the spin studio and freezes in the doorway, her jaw plunging downward, and she hastily tries to regain her composure. Every single bike is already taken. Her eyes flit to Peeta, who is also already on his bike, speaking into his headset with that lazy, sexy smile tugging at his mouth. She swallows as her mortification wells, and just as she pivots on her heel to leave, Peeta glances over and their eyes meet. His smile widens initially, but almost as quickly, he registers her dilemma and before she can be thoroughly humiliated, she hastens back down the corridor, fighting her mounting disappointment.
"Leaving so soon?" the blonde pipes up as Katniss races towards the doors.
"Ah….uh…yeah, the, um, class was full, I guess," she stammers, rooting for her keys in her bag.
"Oh, you must have been looking to spin this morning, huh?" The blonde grins knowingly. "Yeah, tickets for Peeta's classes are gone the minute I set them out."
"Tickets?" Katniss echoes, confused. Johanna never mentioned tickets. She searches her memory and vaguely recalls Johanna hanging something from the front knob on both their bikes. She hadn't given it much thought last Thursday.
The girl fans out an array of laminated purple passes. "These are for the eight am. We put them out thirty minutes before the scheduled class. It's first come, first serve. Peeta's easily our most popular instructor." She grins dreamily. "And he's the best one too. If only he could do all our spin classes."
"Oh, well, thanks for the information. I guess I learned not to be late for class."
"There's an Attack class that starts in fifteen minutes in Studio C. Kind of modified kickboxing. Clove runs a tough workout, but the results are amazing." The girl glances at Katniss. "Not that you really need it." She consults the screen. "And after the eight am spin we—"
"Yeah, I have to be at work by eight-thirty. Thanks anyway."
She spends the rest of her morning filing paperwork on a few recently closed cases, trying not to let her mind wander to those blue eyes.
She'll be damned if she's going to get up at five-thirty in the morning for a class that's not taught by one Peeta Mellark, but she feels compelled to show up and try another instructor as if to prove that she wasn't just there on Monday for the stunning blond man. Which she was—but no one has to know that.
Unfortunately for her, she chooses the six-thirty pm on Tuesday, which offers another blond instructor, but he's a far cry from Peeta. Cato is a hulking force who barks commands at them over pulsing techno music, and the ride sequence is punishing and grueling. Katniss's lungs gasp for air at the end of the fifty-minute torture, and each breath is like swallowing fire. Her water bottle is completely empty, and when she finally hops down from her bike to grab a wipe to clean it properly, her legs are gelatinous and struggle to support her weight.
No wonder there were so many empty bikes.
She makes a mental note to avoid spin class on Tuesday nights.
Wednesday she fully intends to skip the gym and just go for a run after work.
But the weather has other ideas. Around three o'clock, she is seated at her desk, picking at the remnants of an apple-cinnamon muffin and playing Candy Crush on her phone when a clap of thunder shakes the building and she peers out the window behind her to see a torrent of rain unleashed from the swollen, bruised sky.
The storm persists throughout her drive home; the relentless deluge eventually slows to a steady downpour, but it effectively quells any desire she has to jog outside.
Exasperated but still craving a workout, she throws on her running gear, plaits her hair into a braid and heads back into the rain to drive to the gym.
Many of the treadmills are occupied when she arrives, but she locates a free elliptical machine that faces a television tuned to ESPN. After adjusting the settings and punching in her access code, she begins moving with an easy cadence, intending to work up to a more rigorous pace once she's accustomed to it.
While she cycles, she looks around the vast, open area and engages in a little bit of people watching. She's just started studying a tall, dark-haired man who is easily bench-pressing three or four times his own body weight when something catches her eye out of her peripheral vision. The machine beside hers beeps, and she sees the flash of flaxen hair before her eyes land on that chiseled face.
That lazy, sexy grin is directed right at her. "Hi. Katniss, right?"
Shit. Shit, shit, shit. She struggles to return his smile as she winces at her ratty t-shirt and the leggings that might still have a tomato sauce stain on the right thigh, and she can't remember if any of her makeup from work is still visible. She probably looks like hell. How did she not consider that if he works here that he might work out here too?
"Hi, um, Peeta," she finally says. She know it probably sounds like she was searching for his name, which is laughable because her one-track mind has done nothing but chant it incessantly since last Thursday. His grin widens, his mouth parting to reveal two rows of gleaming white. Between the halo of golden curls and the blinding teeth, she practically needs sunglasses to properly admire him.
"So they sucked you in, huh?"
She blinks. "Excuse me?"
He smiles sheepishly. "You must have gotten a membership since last week. Your friend told me that you were here as a guest with her. And now you're here alone."
"You asked Johanna about me?"
"I might have," he says evasively, but his tone is playful. He punches at the controls and increases his speed, but he keeps his blue gaze leveled on her, and she grows increasingly flustered under his stare. She desperately tries to think of something to say, a conversation starter, but she's never been good with words or flirting and so like an idiot, she remains mute. Embarrassed, she averts her eyes and looks up at the television where two sports pundits are arguing impassionedly about some football player.
She's disappointed when Peeta doesn't initiate a discussion, but she figures her own lack of response to his revelation that he had asked her friend about her might have effectively sent the wrong message—that she's not interested. He moves fluidly on the machine next to her, an iPod in the right cup holder, its ear buds dangling precariously. His own eyes are now trained on the television she had just been staring at.
The humming of the surrounding treadmills and their two ellipticals mingles with the clatter of the weights and the drone of casual chatter, and she feels her heartbeat accelerating rapidly the longer Peeta remains beside her. She has no idea how much time passes before he presses a button and his machine progressively slows. When he reaches for his water bottle and tilts his neck back to take a prolonged sip from it, her eyes are drawn to the column of his throat when he swallows and she has the passing urge to drag her tongue along the skin and trace the strong line of his jaw before kissing him senseless.
"I guess I'll see you around then." His honeyed voice interrupts her fantasy, and he slings his towel over his broad shoulders as he finishes cleaning the machine and moves to leave.
"Wait!" she calls impulsively, smacking at her own machine to cease its movement. The sudden stop causes her to lurch, and he moves swiftly to place his arm around her waist so she doesn't tumble off the pedals. Her pulse spikes and she has to swallow reflexively at how his hand feels on the curve of her hipbone and how close their bodies are. "Thanks," she murmurs shyly, dropping her eyes. "No one ever accused me of being graceful."
He laughs softly. "There's a reason you're not supposed to stop cold on these things." He releases her and stares down at her expectantly. She clears her throat; she may have called for him to wait, but with him looking at her, those bewitching blue eyes boring right into her, she cannot for the life of her remember what she was going to say.
Fortunately, this time he breaks the silence and gives her a kind smile. "I'm sorry I missed you at my class Monday morning."
She sucks in a breath, hopefully discreetly so, and nods. "I, um, didn't know about the tickets. You're a very popular guy, huh?"
Is that a blush rising on his cheeks? He chuckles, and the gentle peals of his laughter are a balm to her nerves and she finally feels herself relax a little. "Yeah, I guess I am. I'd like to think it's because I run a good class."
"You have good taste in music," she supplies, though she knows damn well that's not the reason. "Well except for the N*Sync."
He feigns a wounded look. "No one wants to give Justin Timberlake any credit even with how far he's come?" She wrinkles her nose and he grins. "I like to keep the mood light in the middle of a really intense workout. A song like that usually does the trick."
Her traitorous mind seizes on the idea of another intense workout she'd like to experience with him when he rakes a hand through his damp curls and hesitates. "I, ah, was going to swing by the café upstairs and grab a quick bite. Did you want to join me?"
She's never even given a second glance to the café near the entrance, but the food could be moldy and inedible and the invitation to be in his company would still be too good to pass up. Besides, only the remnants of a cheesesteak from last night await her at home. "Sure." She feels a smile lift her lips when he beams at her.
"I don't normally eat here," he explains as they enter the little space and peruse the offerings laid out in the numerous refrigerated cases. "So I can't really tell you what's good. I've heard the soups are usually pretty decent." He gestures to the gloomy night that's descended faster than usual given the stormy conditions. "Might be a good choice tonight."
She nods in agreement and orders the white-bean chicken chowder when Peeta opts for it first. He also gets some kind of a protein smoothie, but she declines and sticks with her water. As she reaches into her gym bag for her wallet, he shakes his head emphatically at her. "No. I asked you up here, my treat."
"No way," she protests, grimacing when she finds only three dollars in her wallet.
Peeta holds up his gym ID and thrusts it at the girl behind the register. "You don't have a choice. " The girl smiles at him and scans the card. "You know you can use your ID to charge things to your account," he explains to her at her visible confusion when he exchanges no money with the cashier.
"Oh. I didn't know that, no," she replies. "Thank you."
He smiles. "My pleasure." He leads her to a small cluster of tables in front of a large plate-glass window, and while he crumbles a few Saltine crackers into his chowder, she idly watches a smattering of raindrops meander down the glass and merge into a large rivulet that slips out of her line of vision. "So, you said you were a social worker. That is a really tough job at times, yeah?" He licks the underside of his spoon, and she looks away quickly before she turns the innocent gesture into something erotic courtesy of her depraved, sex-starved imagination.
"At times, yes," she agrees, and with some gentle leading questions from him, she begins to open up and talk about her job, starting with how she got into social work in the first place. Peeta is an attentive listener, and she manages not to be overly distracted by the way his hair tousles naturally as it dries or the hypnotic motion of that chiseled jaw when he eats or drinks.
She reciprocates and asks him about himself, and she learns that he's applying to med school and has aspirations be a team physician for a professional sports team—he's not particular about what sport or what team, though he says each has its own trends in injuries and medical needs. He's taken a few courses on the brain and thus, football and hockey are particularly appealing with the increase in concussions. But for the time being, he works as a personal trainer and teaches the spin class for fun.
The conversation flows easily when they shift to discussions about favorite colors and bands and television shows, and she's secretly pleased to learn that they have so much in common—even if he is horrified that she's never seen a single episode of Arrested Development. She even more delighted when he promises he's going to change that.
And then they dance around the subject of significant others, but she thinks his eyes gleam when she reveals she's most certainly single at the moment, and he divulges he broke up with his girlfriend last December and though he's not as free with the details, he gives her the impression it was not a relationship that he was too sad to end.
The rain finally eases up and he gives a loud sigh. "I have an eight o'clock session. This lady is never on time, but I should get back downstairs so if she actually decides to be prompt for once, I'm there." His hand drifts across the table, but almost immediately, he pulls it back. "Thanks, Katniss, for joining me. It's nice not to eat alone."
"I hardly think you'd have trouble finding a dinner companion in this place," she replies with a nervous laugh as two leggy blondes walk by in expensive looking workout attire, blatantly ogling Peeta.
"Well I appreciated the company." He winks at her and clears his place, grabbing for her empty bowl and napkin as well. "Maybe I'll see you around? Say tomorrow at, I don't know, 6:30?"
"Is that a shameless promotion for your class?" she teases, and his eyes twinkle with mirth.
"You got me."
Her heart is still thundering in her ears when she starts her car and she's practically floating a few hours later when she slips into bed.
How can one guy make her feel like a giddy teenager—especially when she never acted like this when she was a teenager?
She feels like a bit of a stalker doing so, but Katniss arrives at the gym at quarter to six the next afternoon and sits in her car until the clock reads 5:57, at which point she shuts off the engine, grabs her water bottle and dashes inside just as the male employee at the front desk is spreading out the orange tickets for Peeta's 6:30 class. She shamelessly plucks the top laminated pass from the pile and smirks at the bold, black number '1' marked in the upper right corner.
Peeta rewards her with that dangerously sexy smile of his when he walks into the studio at 6:15 and their eyes meet. She pedals confidently as she warms up, darting glances at him as he busies himself getting ready for the class. He goes through his usual greeting and at precisely 6:30 he starts the workout.
Whether it's from the extra effort she puts into her strides or the added resistance she loads on or the suggestive glances she thinks Peeta continues to secret in her direction, her heart races wildly and her pulse gallops through her veins and thus, she's utterly exhausted by the end of fifty minutes.
When Peeta announces cool down, the familiar strum of the Lumineers' "Stubborn Love" rises from the speakers, and Katniss hums along quietly, recalling how they both expressed their appreciation for the band, and in particular this song, just last night. As he begins talking them through stretching, she doesn't even bother to hide how her eyes follow the sinews of the muscles in his arms and the lines of his jaw as he speaks. With the sheen of perspiration on what shows of his chest, she can barely suppress the illicit thoughts she is having about him and what he must be like in bed. Her stomach swoops and a wetness that definitely is not just sweat dampens her panties.
After she wipes down her bike, she takes a deep breath, grabs her water bottle and prepares to approach him. She's not sure what exactly she'll say and her mind races with possibilities when a tall redhead jostles her elbow, slips past her and sidles up to Peeta, batting her mile-long eyelashes, promptly monopolizing his attention.
Katniss bites her lip and hovers near her bike for several moments, but as the striking girl drones on and Peeta's eyes remain fixed on her, Katniss deflates and slinks from the spin studio, disappointment coursing through her. Though her body wants to trudge towards the exit, her 'fight or flight' instinct has her legs moving swiftly. It's only when she reaches her car in the parking lot that it dawns on her that her keys are right where she placed them at the start of the class—underneath the spin bike she had eagerly chosen. Well, fuck.
Irritated by her own forgetfulness, she loiters near the front desk until a reasonable time has passed and she assumes that Peeta has exited the spin studio. She doesn't really want to barge back in and intrude on him flirting with the willowy redhead. What was she thinking? Her own words to Johanna from the very first class she took with Peeta taunt her: a guy like him could never want a girl like her, not with the wide assortment of beautiful women gaping at him and throwing themselves at him. How could she even think she could compete?
The studio lights are dim when she pushes open the door, but as she steps over the threshold, her body slams into a firm, unyielding but undeniably warm blockade. "Whoa," he whispers, and she leaps back, both startled and horrified by the rush of heat that floods her.
"I…I…" she stammers, her tongue crowding her mouth and paralyzing her speech.
He smiles triumphantly and holds up her keys. "You're looking for these."
She nods dumbly but makes no move to grab them. In the faint glow, his eyes look darker than usual, and there is something gleaming in them that is new and unfamiliar to her. He takes a step towards her, and instinctively, she backs up. He continues advancing upon her until he effectively has her pinned to the wall beside the closed door. Her senses kick into overdrive and she can smell the comingling aroma of sweat and spices—she definitely thinks she can make out cinnamon—emanating from him. "Thank you…I…um…must have forgotten them."
There's that lazy, sexy smile again, and it resonates directly between her legs as he leans down a bit closer to her. "Don't ruin my fantasy, Katniss," he chides, placing one hand above her on the wall, the other continuing to dangle her keys teasingly. "Let me go on thinking you left your keys under your bike on purpose, okay?"
Her breath hitches. "Is that what you think?"
"It's what I want to think. That you deliberately forgot them so you could come back here and be alone with me." His tongue juts out to wet his lips and intuitively she moistens her own. The flick of her tongue must do something to him; he drops her keys to the floor, plants his hand on her hip and as his mouth slants over hers, she melts against the wall, her limbs liquid under the delicious weight of him. She kisses him back with equal passion, their mouths connecting hungrily. A needy moan escapes her when his tongue traces the seam of her lips and she parts them to welcome his intrusion.
His tongue plunders the warm crevices of her mouth, hesitantly gliding along the roof of her mouth before licking along her tongue to coax it to mate with his. She rises on her tiptoes and crushes her small frame against his, clawing at the nape of his neck with one hand. As their tongues wrestle and duel for dominance, she feels an inferno spreading through her jellied limbs and combusting into a smoldering fire in her belly. She has never wanted anything as much as she wants this man right now.
She utters a squeak of protest when his tongue retreats and his mouth detaches from hers, a thread of saliva snapping between them. Peeta pants softly, his placid blue eyes a wild, primal dark navy and one finger reaches out to map the curve of her lower lip. "I've wanted to do that since you first walked through that door a week ago."
Her eyes widen and she struggles to catch her breath. "Really?"
He nods. "Really. I couldn't stop thinking about you that night." He grins sheepishly. "I even thought about sending Johanna a message on Facebook to pump her for info on you. Lucky for me our paths crossed the next day and she was more than happy to tell me all about her very single, very available, very beautiful friend."
"I haven't stopped thinking about you either," she confesses softly as she cocks her neck to the left and permits his lips and teeth to worry the flesh there.
He draws back again, his face flushed with the evidence of his own want for her, and he looks incredulous. "Really? I didn't—"
Impulsively, she presses a finger firmly across his open lips, silencing him. "Later. Talk later," she mumbles, her voice rough with desire, and he groans, cradling her cheeks with his large hands, angling his face down to reclaim her mouth.
She mumbles, "God, it doesn't feel like it's only been a week and—"
His lips seize hers in a bruising kiss, and they're both wheezing for air when he releases her and smirks. "You said no talking."
"I did." Their mouths fuse together again and his hands return to her waist; as he tugs her body flat against his, she whimpers softly as his erection comes into contact with her abdomen and she levers on her toes to attempt to grind against it. Peeta releases a growl and suddenly his strong hands are lifting her up, her back climbing the wall as he urges her to wrap her legs around his waist. He holds her in place as if she weighs nothing and resumes his assault on her lips.
She's never been kissed so thoroughly, so passionately, and the reaction that Peeta's expert mouth is spurring in her reminds her a little of being drunk—which isn't something she makes a habit of, but she fast feels herself losing control of her inhibitions—and she doesn't really care.
The jiggling of the doorknob startles them both, and Peeta's hands still, one on the small of her back, the other poised just below her left breast. Gently, he slides her back down until her feet find purchase with the floor, but as she does, she grazes the prominent bulge in his shorts. Seconds later the lights brighten and a cart wheels through the door first. Peeta exhales and gives her a look pregnant with irritation. "Janitor," he murmurs. "My class is the last spin of the night on Thursdays. And this place is diligent about cleaning." He swears and grits his teeth as he gives the janitor a polite little wave when he steps into the studio.
His hand laces through hers and he glances around, his brows furrowed in evident contemplation. "I'm sorry." Exhaling again, he rakes his free hand through his rumpled curls.
"Can we go somewhere?" she asks boldly, the persistent ache between her legs dominating her need for rational thought. Rubbing against him the way she did just moments ago did nothing to quell the fire in her core. His eyes round, and she bites her lip expectantly. "I really want you right now."
Peeta glances over at the janitor, who is mopping the floor in the rear corner of the room, either oblivious to their presence or dutifully ignoring it. He leans down and touches the tip of his nose to hers and gestures between them. "I really want you too. Let me think for a second…okay, it's not too romantic or anything but right across the hall is the big storage closet where they keep the yoga mats and stuff." He pauses thoughtfully again. "The last yoga class on Thursdays is over at seven. We should be good." Kissing the tip of her nose gently, he backs away and motions to his groin. "I kind of can't go out there right now. So you go and I'll meet you in there in a few minutes."
She nods, her pulse quickening, and she slips from the spin studio. There are only a few others in the hallway, most lingering outside the cardio studio to the right where a Zumba class starts at eight. Inconspicuously, Katniss shuffles across the hall and walks quickly down the narrow hall between the yoga and cardio rooms, where she indeed finds a large door. To her relief, it's unlocked and she slips inside.
Blinking rapidly in the harsh fluorescent lighting of the closet, her eyes scan stacks of yoga mats and larger gymnastic mats that create a kaleidoscopic maze in the center of the space, and Katniss perches on a fairly sturdy looking row of them. Spontaneously, she unties her sneakers and slides them off, balling up her socks and stuffing them inside. She's examining shelves of yoga blocks, resistance weights and medicine balls when her ears perk up at the door clicking. Peeta leans against the back of it, his fingers fumbling behind him to lock it securely, and when he's satisfied, he crosses to her in two quick strides and hauls her into his arms again.
His kisses are still insistent, but also slower and more experimental; with each stroke of his tongue, she feels the warmth kindling in her veins again and it emboldens her. As his mouth moves to worry the lobe of her ear, she allows her hands to begin their own exploration of his toned body. She reaches under the silky material of his shirt, her fingers trailing along the ridges of his abdominal muscles as her thumb gently tickles the fine hair below his navel. The need to see more of him causes her to roughly tug the hem of his shirt and he comprehends, nipping at her neck once more before releasing her so they can both drag the shirt up over his head.
She shakes her head in disbelief at just how well built he is—like some kind of statue. As she tugs her lip between her teeth and moves back towards him, he holds her in place with his hooded eyes. "Yours too. I want to see you." She glances down at her sweat-soaked sports bra and nods deliberately. It's not as easy to remove the restrictive garment, but when she does and the cool air hits her slick breasts, her nipples pucker and Peeta's eyes lower to take in the sight. The lazy, sexy smile that is so familiar to her now creeps onto his lips and he crooks his finger to coax her forward into his palms.
Her head snaps back at the first touch of his calloused thumbs circling the erect peaks, little bolts of current radiating from them to slither down her belly and pool between her thighs. She's always been self-conscious about her breasts, but she fits perfectly into his palms and he's touching her like she's some sort of clay, kneading and molding and testing. At the first tentative flick of his tongue over one aching bud, she moans and murmurs her approval, arching her back and mewling when he laves her breast more fully with the flat of his tongue before sucking the nipple into his mouth.
She writhes against the stacked mats as he showers her breasts with attention, clearly not put off by the lingering perspiration on them. Threading one hand through his wet hair encouragingly, she reaches down to cup him over the very obvious bulge in his shorts. He groans around her nipple, releasing her from his mouth to kiss a path down her flat stomach, swirling his tongue around her navel. His shift in position forces her to let go of him, and she realizes just how badly she wants to touch him—all of him—too.
Before she knows it, Peeta's hands have stilled on her hips, and he is watching her cautiously as he slowly works her damp bike shorts downward. She nods, her head spinning and her heart thundering as they pool around her feet. When she moves to kick them free, he warns her, "Don't lose sight of them. We should probably be prepared to redress quickly if we hear a key in that lock."
She stifles a laugh because she's been so enraptured by his talented mouth and hands that she nearly forgot that they were locked in a utility closet. The reminder does little more than fuel her adrenaline at the illicitness of it all, and she impatiently fumbles with his shorts until he helps her get them down to his knees before he steps out of them. He then hastily kicks off his double-knotted spin shoes, which he wears sockless.
"Fuck me," she breathes as her eyes dance along the hard, thick length protruding up from a thatch of golden curls.
"That's the idea," he whispers, drawing her flush against him, and they both moan at the contact between their naked, fevered bodies. Peeta's right hand meanders down between them until she feels his fingers part her wet folds and she bucks into his touch.
"Do you have—?"
He silences her with a kiss. "A condom? Yeah. I made sure to grab one from my gym bag."
She raises an eyebrow at him. "You just keep them in your gym bag because…"
"I don't normally," he says softly. "I put one in there Tuesday after you ran out on Monday morning. I told you, I've been thinking about you nonstop. Call it wishful thinking."
His voice is so sincere, so reverent, that Katniss can think of no appropriate reply other than to lunge up on her toes and attack his mouth with hers. He reaches down to pull something from his spin shoes, and she sees a flash of foil as he produces the condom with a sheepish smile.
"It was the only place—"
"Don't care how it got there," she cuts him off, grabbing for the prophylactic and ripping the packet apart. "Can I?"
He nods earnestly, blue eyes shining under the raw fluorescent lighting. She unrolls the condom over his shaft, pinching the tip and glancing to him for approval. His only response is to lift her up as high as he can, settling her knees over the crook of his elbows. With his eyes focused on hers, he slides his hands to grip her just below her breasts as he slowly eases her down on his cock until he's fully sheathed inside her and they're both whimpering from the coupling. Katniss clutches at his broad shoulders with one hand while the other cups his jaw, urging him to connect their mouths while she begins to ride him. Their tongues mimic their bodies, and though she feels fuller than ever before, the stretch is a pleasurable one and she allows Peeta's thrusts to set the pace as he uses his arms to bob her up and down on him.
"Oh, god! Peeta," she cries, the dull ache in her abdomen spreading, tightening to a heated, spiraling sensation. He mumbles her name against her mouth and resumes kissing her, but she cries out, a sharp pain spreading across her back as the Velcro on the top-most mat scratches her.
Without missing a thrust, Peeta walks them over to a slightly lower stack of mats, ones that don't have the potentially perilous strips of Velcro on the sides, Katniss still bouncing on his cock as they move.
"You…are…incredible…" she gasps out as she feels her climax starting to crest. He sucks on her bottom lip and then soothes it with his tongue.
"I can't hold out much longer," he replies shallowly. He glances down briefly. "But I also can't touch you like this."
"S'okay." She keens as his cock catches her clit with his next plunge upward. "Oh, fuck…just like that. Again! Unhhh!"
"Go ahead, Peeta," she croons. "It's okay."
"Fuck," he cries, and she feels him pulse inside her, his pelvis rocking beneath her as his climax overwhelms him. "Oh, fuck, Katniss…" He buries his face in her neck and peppers the skin with open-mouthed kisses while he begins to soften inside her.
Carefully he sets her down, bracing one hand at the small of her back, and without even removing the condom, he crouches before her and she has to stifle a scream when his tongue sweeps through her lower lips and seeks out her throbbing clit. Her back bows over the top of the stacked mats as he latches on to the swollen nub and begins to suckle it eagerly then slows to lazy revolutions with his tongue. Her eyes close and her mouth falls open, incoherent sounds spilling forth.
"Good?" Peeta glances up, and her chest heaves as she struggles to keep her breathing under control.
"So good, keep going…please! Ah!"
He grins wickedly and recommences lapping at her arousal, snaking one hand around to gently cup her ass and bring her even closer to his mouth. Her skin feels as if it's on fire and her pulse thrums wildly, and when Peeta presses the tip of his tongue directly over the sensitive bundle of nerves, she comes undone, trembling and vibrating against his mouth. She's still quivering when he licks his lips and wipes at his chin and straightens to gather her into his strong arms. Sighing contentedly, she leans her head against his muscled chest, her lips quirking up at the erratic thump of his heart.
"I have to say…" She pauses to catch her breath again. "That was a more intense workout than your spin class. More fun too…no offense."
"Mmm…none taken," he laughs, pressing a kiss to the crown of her head. "I'll take that workout anytime too."
"Is that an invitation?" She tosses him his shorts and he grins.
"An open-ended one…if you'll allow it."
The fluttering returns to her stomach. Even with what just transpired, she can't fathom how this impossibly hot, incredibly sexy, altogether perfect man wants anything to do with her. He steps forward and rubs his thumb along her cheekbone, and the gaze he gives her is so ardent, she can't think of a single reason she would ever deny Peeta Mellark anything.
She smiles. "I'll allow it."
On a Monday morning a few weeks later, the alarm blares at 5:30, and Katniss's arm flails out to smack it into silence. She burrows further under the covers before a strong arm curves around her waist and lures her body back against his.
"Five more minutes," she pleas, licking her chapped lips when she hears his soft chuckle and feels his cock stiffen fully against her ass.
"What, you think just because you don't need a ticket for my class now that you're sleeping with the instructor it means you can roll in late?" He clucks his tongue playfully and his lips ghost over the nape of her neck, causing her naked body to shudder.
She wriggles back into him, grinning at the little groan that he emits but releases a gasp of her own when his fingers pluck at her nipple. "Mmm…what if the instructor has a good reason for being late?"
"And that would be?" He twists her around to face him, and she traces the defined line of his jaw before claiming his lips with hers.
"Maybe he was making love to his girlfriend…"
Peeta laughs against her mouth, stroking her side languidly with his fingertips. "What if I were to tell you that he can do that after class in the employee sauna? Monday mornings are pretty quiet, so if you can be, too—"
She kisses him soundly and throws back the sheets, leaping from the bed. "Done."
I am still not on tumblr, but I welcome PMs, and like my lovely gals that are on tumblr, I will accept requests for drabbles and FFFs that street is always gracious enough to post for me. I'm in the middle of LLS submissions and have two bday gifts on my docket, but send away...the worst thing I can do is say no, right? ;)